A safety and efficacy pilot study of acupuncture for the treatment of chronic lymphedema

Barrie R Cassileth, Kimberly J Van Zee, Yi Chan, Marci I Coleton, Clifford A Hudis, Sara Cohen, James Lozada, Andrew J Vickers(2011) Acupunct Med. 29(3): 170–172. doi:  10.1136/aim.2011.004069


Many of those dealing with lymphedema have been told to avoid acupuncture needles in the quadrant that they have lymphedema. However, research may say something different.  I like to bring up this study often, as it's a misconception that acupuncture is contraindicated in lymphedema patients.  

A study looking at the safety and efficacy of acupuncture in women diagnosed with breast cancer related lymphedema found:

  • four women showed at least a 30% reduction in the extent of lymphoedema at 4 weeks when compared with their respective baseline values.
  • No serious adverse events occurred during or after 73 treatment sessions.

http://aim.bmj.com/content/29/3/17